Joint Statement on Current Crisis Facing Kenya

1 July 2024: Six national associations of content creators, journalists, lawyers, medical practitioners, and human rights defenders issue this statement to pronounce our stand on the current state of human rights in the country, clarify our position on the call for policy dialogue, and suggest what we think is the way out of Kenya’s current crisis.

As of last night, 24 human beings had been killed by police officers, and at least 361 people have reported several injuries. One of the youngest fatalities is twelve-year-old Kennedy Onyango (12). There have been 627 arrests and 32 abductions. Abduction and detention differ from an arrest. Many of those abducted by state officers were not read the charges against them or booked into a police station. Tens have been held incommunicado and denied access to their families, legal representation and medical assistance.

The last two weeks have been very stressful for our staff. Medical personnel have come under fire, arrested by state officers and had their patient lists stolen from mobile emergency centres serving the injured. Lawyers have been denied access to their clients, arrested, and intimidated by officers of the state to drop cases. Journalists covering the protests have had their cameras confiscated, arrested and beaten in broad daylight. Staff operating helplines and funds set up to support legal representation and medical assistance have faced several experiences.

We note the State House’s announcement of a multi-sectoral conversation to address policy issues raised by the Youth for Kenya (Gen Z) protest movement. Youth for Kenya (Gen Z) has clearly spoken on the urgent need for the state to arrest public theft and a bloated cabinet, invest in essential services, act on those who fired upon unarmed protestors, release those arbitrarily arrested and put an end to extrajudicial killings among other demands. Many of their demands, in our view, do not require policy dialogue but decisive executive action.

Decisive executive action, not a state-led national conversation, will restore this generation’s faith in the Kenyan state. It will restore confidence in our constitution and governance institutions and create a nation united and driven by our constitutional values. We call on the national administration and 47 county administrations to listen to and act on Gen Z’s considerations and demands. Numerically, they represent the majority of Kenyans and those with the greatest stake in re-directing the current crisis to a more hopeful future for us all.

We end by reaffirming our role to protect all the rights and freedoms in our constitution without fear or favour. We ask that the Kenyan authorities respect our mandates and stop the harassment of our staff and the interruption of legal, medical and other public services. Security officers must cease the attacks on emergency medical centres and medical personnel. The Government must provide necessary supplies, including ambulances, and guarantee the safety of caregivers during the planned protests for this week. Further, the state must meet the medical costs of the injured. The government’s constitutional duty is to provide health services to all, including protestors.

The National Police Service must stop criminalising protestors and cease using camouflaged, non-uniformed officers and unmarked cars with concealed license plates. We ask that the police and military strictly operate within the constitution and our bill of rights during the protests called for this week.

Signed by the Kenya Medical Association, Bloggers Association of Kenya, Law Society of Kenya, Kenya Union of Journalists, Medics for Kenya and the Police Reforms Working Group, a coalition of 21 organisations including the Kenya Section of the International Commission of Jurists, Independent Medical and Legal Unit, Kenya Human Rights Commission, Defenders Coalition and Amnesty International Kenya